To say that
Elijah Cox lead a remarkable life would be an understatement. He
entered military service during the Civil War where he served as
a personal aide to Capt. George Madison of the 6th Illinois Cavalry.
After the war Cox returned to Michigan where he learned to be a
carpenter - later he became a sailor. Neither of these professions,
however, was to his liking and he decided to rejoin the Army.
On July 1, 1870, Cox was assigned to Company B, 25th Infantry -
this unit, made up of black men, gallantly served on the Texas frontier.
Elijah Cox spent a year with this unit and was wounded during an
engagement with Apache Indians between Fort
Davis and Fort
Quitman. Because of his injuries, the Army gave him an honorable
discharge on June 30, 1871, at Fort
It seems that Elijah had intended to return home to Michigan, but
while traveling near San
Angelo and Fort Concho
he fell in love with the area and decided to stay - he would spend
the rest of his life in Texas.
Cox was what you might call a "jack of all trades" - he worked as
a cook, bartender, buffalo hunter, carpenter, entertainer, and musician.
According to an article from the True West Historical Society,
Elijah's favorite occupation was being a musician. He was accomplished
with the guitar and fiddle.
Elijah and his son, Ben, played for all the dances at Fort
Concho. In 1924, Cox was interviewed by a local newspaper and
he reminisced about the music he played. "There wasn't none of them
turkey trots in that day," said Cox. "Folks danced the schottische,
the polka, the square dance, and the quadrille. We had music in
them days, too. I'll bet I can play 300 waltzes, all of them different,
It's interesting to note that some sources say that although he
was in the military, Cox was never assigned to Fort
Concho; however, the fort's website says he did serve there.
Regardless, there's no doubt that he loved the area and died there
Jan. 20, 1941, at the age of 98. He is buried at Fairmont Cemetery
found in an article published in February 2014, by Goodfellow Air
Force Base, reveals that Fort
Concho, originally established in 1867, was built for soldiers
protecting frontier settlers traveling west against Native American
tribes in the area.
According to Bob Bluthardt, Fort
Concho site manager, the Buffalo
Soldiers at many western forts weren't often welcomed by white
citizens the colored troops had sworn to protect. They still performed
admirably in the field, maintaining the lowest desertion and discipline
rates with the highest re-enlistment rates.
Some famous Buffalo
Soldiers who served at Fort
Concho include Henry
O. Flipper, who graduated from West Point and became the nation's
first African-American Army officer, and Elijah Cox, who remained
Angelo after his service and was known for his talents as a
"About 80 percent of the troops were ex-slaves, so they were built
for the military life, so they were used to working hard, long hours
and surviving on little food and clothing," said Paul Cook, Company
Elijah Cox was one of hundreds of black soldiers who served courageously
on the Texas frontier - they answered the call to arms and for that
we should honor them. Fort
Concho pays tribute to these men every February during Black
Star Diary February 2, 2015 column